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Thoughts on Adobe's ColdFusion Roadshow in New York

Adobe had a ColdFusion Roadshow Event in New York last week and I attended. I had a moment between two projects, so I thought why not take a trip to the city and network a bit?

I wanted to formalize some of my thoughts about the event in no particular order.

I was personally invited by Kishore Balakrishnan, the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe ColdFusion. I'm not sure why I got the invite. My software development company has been an Adobe partner in the past, but not in ages. I was part of the Adobe ACP program in the past, but am not currently a member. It could be that they just emailed everyone who had downloaded CF from their website. I'm not sure, but I also didn't ask.

The even was sparsely attended, maybe 20 people tops. I did meet someone from one town over who is running a medical startup that plans to use ColdFusion. That was a treat.

The event started with a presentation by Elishia Dvorak about What's new in ColdFusion 2016. My big takeaway was that they had built an API Manager tool. This is a way to manage REST APIs, whether they are built in CF or something else. This is a completely separate product from ColdFusion. I sounded to me like a proxy or entry point that could be used to manager other APIs, load balancing, documentation, and user management. I can see a benefit if you're a big company moving to a reusable service based architecture to power your organization, or a company whose business is providing services to external clients or vendors. It was an interesting approach. Since I've focused on UI Programming I don't know what else is out there that does that. If you need something like this, and are already a ColdFusion customer, it is worth checking out.

Everything else new to CF was related to performance, security, and stability. Apparently when Adobe talks to customers there are the three areas of focus. I'm not surprised, though. ColdFusion is a mature technology that does what I need it to do. What is left to add? I've had trouble answering that question for 10 years.

Then Kishnore got up to present about Tackling Future Challenges using ColdFusion. He started by talking about how ColdFusion success. Apparently ColdFusion is thriving. They said that each release doubles the sales of the previous release. I'm a bit surprised by the numbers. The next version of ColdFusion will be released in 2018, the only feature I can recall was a revamped version of CFScript which will offer more OO Features. And of course, more stability, better performance, and better security. All good things, but not the whiz bangy features to make new people interested.

Since ColdFusion is doubling it's sales with each release that means there must be a huge demand, right? Nope! The two biggest complaints from the audience were the inability to find CF Developers and the inability to find CF Jobs. I hope those two networked with each other. My impression is that the ones who can't find CF Developers are you for beginners. The bulk of CF Devs have lots of experience with it, and no new blood is coming into the fold. Kishnore suggested that CF is easy to train people in. I agree. However, another attendee complained that it is hard to book people for CF Training courses from major training centers. The course always gets cancelled last minute because not enough people signed up. That is troublesome and won't help train up a new breed of devs. The topic of IDEs came up. A lot of people complained about CF Builder, how it is a mess, but and how they still use Dreamweaver. I have to admit this surprised me to find people are using Dreamweaver for coding? I admit that Eclipse, which is the base of CF Builder, takes a learning curve. For simple code hinting, IntelliJ has addressed my needs well. It is also worth nothing that CF Builder is now included with the license cost of CF. That's a nice touch.

The topic of Rapid Application Development came up, and the attendees agreed that CF is RAD. I agree, especially when compared to Java. However, a lot of attendees said nothing can beat CF. I'm not sure that is still the case. One big benefit to CF being a RAD language is that it is loosely typed. However, a lot of server platforms offer that today. I was left with the impression that a lot of attendees had not played with more current tech. I do expect that you'll be more effective when dealing with a tech you've worked with for 20 years than you will be with something you just learned. But, once up the learning curve of new technology I'm not sure CF has the lead many championed. I worry that CFs push to add more Object Oriented features may hinder CF's RAD ability.

With such high sales numbers, I'm a bit surprised that they couldn't get a bigger crowd in NYC. My perception is that CF has big usage in government, but it seems all but abandoned in the commercial markets I usually work in.

Those are some random thoughts on the experience. Primarily I focus on UI technologies these days, but still have a few CF clients and every now and then. I'm glad I could fit the visit into my schedule. I'm glad CF is still around and kicking.

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